It was their first head-to-head audition for the biggest role in the world. The first opportunity to show not only America but the rest of the globe just how fit they are to lead the most powerful nation on the planet.
And yet, unsurprisingly, Donald Trump's performance in yesterday's debate revealed that he is no more than a petulant little boy. He repeatedly interrupted Hillary Clinton, mansplained to her and acted like an entitled child who thought he knew more than her about, well, everything.
In the first 26 minutes of the debate alone, Trump interrupted Clinton 25 times, which did not go unnoticed on Twitter.
It's normal to get a bit het up in a debate, and when it's one as important as this was, we expect a bit of passion. Things get heated, interjections happen. But while Clinton interrupted Trump 17 times during the debate, she was dismissed on three times as many occasions by her adversary.
The man simply cannot keep his mouth shut - a seemingly similar affliction to Boris Johnson's inability to keep his legs together.
What is perhaps most revealing is the way in which Trump shouted down Clinton: a large majority of his interruptions were single words like 'no' and 'wrong'. Frankly, it was painful to watch.
And then there was Clinton's reaction to it all: like most women, she'd been dealt this hand before and was clearly used to domineering treatment at the hands of a bullying man.
Clinton at least let Trump finish his points most of the time, despite clearly thinking everything coming out of his mouth was absolute rubbish.
One of the highlights of the night had to be Trump's pronouncement that his biggest asset is his "winning temperament". He proudly proclaimed that "I know how to win." And Clinton's reaction said it all.
Clearly thrilled by both Trump's assertion and the audience's laughter in response, a wide grin spread across Clinton's face, yet she let him finish and make his point. Probably because her tiny female brain couldn't react quickly enough to interrupt back.
But being interrupted by men isn't just a problem women have to face at presidential candidate level.
A 1975 study by the University of California reached the conclusion that "men deny equal status to women as conversational partners" - they studied a range of conversations and found that in mixed-sex exchanges, men were responsible for 98 percent of interruptions they overheard.
Judging by last night's debate, the situation hasn't much improved over the past four decades.
But it wasn't just the interrupting that was familiar to women across the world, there was also Trump's patronising and condescending remarks, such as "I want you to be very happy. It's very important to me" and "I've been all over the campaign trail. You decided to stay home, and that's OK."
And then there was the moment Trump called Hillary "not nice". Because that's what all women should be, right?
Considering Trump has been repeatedly criticised for his offensive remarks about women - there was the time he called women "beautiful pieces of ass", when he said all of us are gold-diggers, and when he called a female journalist a dog, to name but a few - one might have thought Trump would have made a conscious effort to counteract that image, but this debate saw him engulfed in his own disrespectful idiocy towards the opposite sex.
Evidently, the overwhelming burden of male privilege was too heavy a cross to bear.